Tri-color lacquerware of Yi ethnic group
Updated: 2011-02-16 13:19
Craftsmen appeared very early in the history of the Yi ethnic group. Lacquerware were like a shining star among Yi utensils. The most used colors in Yi lacquerware are black, red and yellow.
The technique used on Yi lacquerware started 1,700 years ago. The earliest Yi people created and used wooden and leather utensils, which was the origin of lacquerware. After the Han Dynasty, Yi people developed the craft and created the lacquerware with their own ethnic characteristics.
Yi lacquerware have been developing along with Yi society. In recent years, it reached a certain artistic level and is popular with Yi people. Lacquer has wide uses, such as dinnerware, drinking vessel, and weapons. Its usage in dinnerware and drinking vessel still exits. In addition, wooden decorations, ancient armors, and some religious outfits also use the painting of lacquerware.
Lacquerware are made mostly from wood or leather. The wooden materials used for lacquerware are grown at 3,500 meters altitude. They’re processed through a complicated procedure. Labeled “green ecological lacquerware,” they’re non-toxic, odor-free, and can resist high temperatures.
Yi lacquerware are classic and natural, and the patterns on it are very closely related to our daily lives. They include scenery patterns, animal patterns, vegetation patterns and production patterns.
Color decoration, carving, mosaic and other production methods are employed on Yi lacquerware. Color decoration is most frequently used. Black is often used as the background color, and smooth lines and patterns are drawn on the surface. Mountains, rivers, birds, animals, flowers, grasslands, trees, fruits and vegetables can all be the subject of the pattern.
The craftsmen draw patterns directly onto the lacquerware without any draft. Drawing patterns on the lacquerware is complicated work. The craftsmen do not rely on any instrument; instead, they do it completely by their steady and accurate hand. It is said that the craftsmen first practice on substandard products. It takes half a year to master the skill.
The lacquerware’s color is interspersed with black, red and yellow. Black symbolizes dignity and decency, red symbolizes bravery and enthusiasm, and yellow symbolizes beauty and brightness. The use of the three colors represents the Yi people’s faith and conviction, and is culturally meaningful. The yellow and red paint are made from a mixture of natural mineral and resin. The three simple colors endow the lacquerware with a classic and dignified style.
The colored lacquerware are unique in Yi ethnic group’s traditional culture. The relationship its styles, colors and patterns have with Sichuan lacquerware is yet to be discovered. We may uncover some valuable information about the ancient Yi culture from it.
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